ATB: Tournament Basketball Begins, an RTC Ends Badly, and the Final Big Monday of the Year…Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2012
Tonight’s Lede. Championship Fortnight is under way! With three days still left in February, the Big South Tournament tipped off its opening round at two different campus locations to mark the arrival of the best time of the year. Elimination basketball, baby. Most of the nation is still focusing on the last week of the regular season in the power conferences, and the final Big Monday of the 2011-12 season featured one of the country’s two NPOY candidates in action, an RTC that went oh-so-badly, and an impressive defensive performance by a team we’re having trouble figuring out. Let’s jump in…
Your Watercooler Moment. When RTCing Goes Very Wrong. You all know our general set of guidelines when it comes to rushing the court. Make it special. Listen to your gut. Full and complete coverage. Easy enough, right? Well, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be RTCing for any reason until the game is actually over. Delaware State’s fans must not have gotten the memo tonight against Morgan State, and it severely cost them. After a tip-dunk by Tahj Tate gave the Hornets a one-point lead very late in the game, players and fans spilled onto the court in jubilation of the apparent victory. The only problem — there were still 1.1 seconds remaining on the game clock. After a significant delay, the officials levied a delay of game technical foul on Delaware State, allowing Morgan State’s Aric Brooks to hit two free throws to win the game. It’s not very often that MEAC basketball is highlighted on the national stage for something significant — this certainly isn’t the PR hit that the league offices were probably hoping for.
Survive and Advance. Big South. The Big South Tournament got under way on Monday night with High Point overtaking Gardner-Webb, 68-58, and VMI (remember when they could score?) outlasting Radford, 55-53. High Point will advance to play the top seed, UNC-Asheville, on Wednesday night, while VMI will take on the #2 seed, Coastal Carolina.
The Horizon League will tip off with four games on Tuesday night.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- T-Rob Good, Not Great. We mentioned in this space yesterday that the top two NPOY candidates, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, each had two more games this week to make their case for the crown. Robinson’s game tonight was good but not great — the junior big man went for his standard 17/11 double-double, but he shot only 6-15 from the field in the Jayhawks’ win. Davis will next lace them up on Thursday night at home against Georgia. Another dominant game could give him a bit of separation heading into the weekend.
- 8 Str8. Regardless of how the NPOY race ends up, Robinson’s team with a victory at Oklahoma State clinched sole possession of Kansas’ eighth straight Big 12 regular season title, the longest such streak in the nation after Gonzaga’s 11 in a row ended last weekend. In an era where there is so much turnover at the elite level of basketball, what Bill Self has been able to do within this conference is nothing short of amazing. The Jayhawks have only lost a grand total of 19 regular season Big 12 games over that span, which roughly comes out to 2.4 losses per season. Remarkable.
- Play the Miss, Fellas. Or don’t. Sometimes after a huge victory on Saturday followed by a tough roadie two nights later, you just want to shut down and forget about everything that’s happening around you. Kansas’ Jeff Withey did so here in this somewhat hilarious clip after Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. Sidenote: Thomas Robinson’s pained reaction is great, although let the record reflect that he didn’t exactly hustle after the ball either.
- Notre Dame’s Offense. We’ll have more on Georgetown’s defense in our Night Line feature, but the Irish stunk up the Verizon Center tonight by failing to put a single one of its players into double figures en route to a 41-point disaster. Mike Brey’s team shot 33% from the field, clanked 14 of 17 three-point attempts, and couldn’t find a rhythm at the line either (6-10 FTs). It’s easy to simply suggest that life on the road in the Big East is really tough (and it is), but Notre Dame appears to be reverting back to that team we saw in November and December who had trouble finding consistent offense without Tim Abromaitis in the lineup.
- Scheduling Longwood. Gonzaga played Longwood on Monday night, defeating the Lancers by 32 points in a game that did far more to hurt the Zags’ RPI than any benefit derived from getting another game in before the WCC Tournament starts later this week. If you consider that Longwood’s RPI of #337 is by far the worst it has faced this season, it stands to reason that playing (and winning) this ridiculous post-WCC regular season game could be worth a half-seed line drop to the Zags on the S-curve.
- Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas (NPOY). Taylor continued his stellar late-season play with a 27-point, two-assist night at Oklahoma State that has some folks thinking he might even be more valuable to KU’s March future than its NPOY candidate. Crazy, right?
- Perry Jones, Baylor. Jones quietly went for 15/10/3 assts in a blowout win over Texas Tech to keep the pressure on Iowa State for the #3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
- Keiton Page, Oklahoma State. Page went for 29/3 on 10-19 shooting in his final home game at Gallagher-Iba Arena tonight. The seventh-leading all-time scorer as a Poke, he’s a hard guy not to root for.
- Kevin Burwell, Mississippi Valley State. Burwell went for 30/5/4 assts on 11-16 shooting (7-10 3FG) to give MVSU its 17th win in a row in the SWAC after starting the season 1-11.
- Corey Law, High Point. Law came off the bench to contribute 16/11/2 blks to keep his team alive in the Big South Tournament’s opening round.